Monday, February 16, 2004


This is an old article but the issue remains fresh. Kate Scannell makes a strong case for medical marijuana in this moving first person account of her own battle with cancer.

Kate is not just any patient, she is also a doctor and co-director of the Northern California Ethics Department of Kaiser-Permanente. Though eloquently stated, she has some harsh words for our attorney general.

I want John Ashcroft to leave his desk, come into the chemotherapy suite and participate in the real consequences of his choices. I want him to meet the bald, frail woman lying in the hospital bed next to mine in the chemotherapy suite. I want this 70-year-old woman to ask him the same medical question she asked me.

And she is no gentler with those in power who continue to deny the comfort of this plant to the dying.

The federal obsession with a political agenda that keeps marijuana out of the hands of sick and dying people is appalling and irrational. Washington bureaucrats - far removed from the troubled bedsides of sick and dying patients - are ignoring what patients and doctors and health care workers are telling them about real world suffering. The federal refusal to honor public referendums like California's voter-approved Medical Marijuana Initiative is as bewildering as it is ominous. Its refusal to listen to doctors groups like the California Medical Association that support compassionate use of medical marijuana is chilling.

For those who are interested in the medical applications of cannabis, it's well worth reading the article in full. For those who don't read it, I leave you with her closing words.

I want Attorney General Aschroft to wipe the vomit off this woman's chest, help lift her belly so she -doesn't hurt as much when she rolls onto her back, and explain straight to her grimacing face why she -can't try marijuana. I want him to tell me why it does not matter to him that almost every sick and dying patient I've ever known who's tried medical marijuana experienced a kinder death. Face to face, I want him to explain all these things to her and to me and to the heartbroken family who is standing by.

I want to see that too.


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